Cinder x, p.4
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       Cinder X, p.4

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 4


  “Don’t play dumb with me, Cameron. ” I poke him in his solid chest with my finger, pretending to be more confident than I really am. “I know you can—you just said you could. ”

  “No, I said I could fix this,” he states condescendingly, attempting to mess with my head. He deliberates something for a moment and then his mouth curves upward into a sly grin. “What if I said I could do it?” He strolls around me at nearly an inhumane speed, swishing his cape, ending up behind me and leaning right over my shoulder. “What would you give me to use this gift?” His voice touches my ear, causing me to shudder.

  “What do you want?” I already have a speculation of what he wants from me and that thought only grows when his finger drifts up my spine.

  “I think you already know,” he whispers, nuzzling his cheek against mine as he grinds his hips against my backside.

  My muscles ravel and I feel like fleeing, but I force myself to stand motionless. “You’ll have to be more specific. ”

  “More specific than this. ” His fingers roam from my back to my hips then his palms flatten and glide up my sides and along the curves of my breasts. I cringe, vomit burning at the back of my throat as a shiver coils through my body. I don’t know what I want. I’m conflicted. Lost. Probably because he’s fucking with my head and not letting me feel my true emotions.

  I open my mouth to tell him to stop, but then he gropes my breast, his fingers drifting underneath the top of the corset and to my nipples. “Say yes; you’ll give me whatever I want,” he whispers in my ear, his voice somewhere between a demand and a pleading groan. His hips writhe forward again, his hardness pressing against my ass. “Say yes, and I’ll bring him back to life. You won’t have to have his blood on your hands. ”

  I want to scream no! That he is probably the one who brought me here to begin with and that he probably made me do this only so I would owe him. That nothing is worth something that involves me owing him, yet as I stare down at the guy’s lifeless body, thinking about his family and friends and how much it’ll hurt when they find out he’s gone, I know that I’ll do anything to spare them the pain I know all too well.

  “Fine,” I choke. “Bring him back to life and I’ll give you what you want. ”

  He lets out a growl and then rubs his hips one more time against me before his fingers leave my corset. “I’m slightly disappointed you gave in so easily. ” He backs away from me and hunches over the body. “I thought you’d be a little more difficult to break down. ” He glances at me as I press my hand to my aching chest, realizing what I’ve done.

  It feels like I’ve handed my soul over to him on a silver platter. My thoughts drift back to the poem I wrote on my wall this morning as I try to figure out my true feelings about this situation.

  Light and darkness

  Death and life

  Wrong and right

  Need and want

  So far apart.

  Yet so closely connected.

  I blink my focus back to Cameron, sinking to my knees on the asphalt as he lifts up his cape, shielding my view from whatever he’s doing. I hear the sound of wind, although I can’t feel it. I can hear my heart beating, but again, I can’t feel it. Then I feel and hear nothing except silence.

  Moments later, Cameron lowers his cape back down and steps back as the guy pushes to his feet, bloody, with his shirt torn, but the slash in his chest is mended and he’s breathing. As he turns around towards me, the guy looks straight through me. It makes me wonder if he’s under some sort of Reaper possession.

  “What were you going to say about my father?” I ask, stepping towards him. “Right before I…” I trail off as he starts to turn towards the alleyway, ready to leave. But I lunge forward and snag the sleeve of his shirt. “You said you know where he is. ”

  The guy shakes his head without looking at me. “I know nothing. ”

  I clutch onto his shirt. “Yes, you do. Please, just tell me. ”

  He shakes his head again, so I jerk on his arm, acting more violent than I normally do. “Just tell me,” I growl, enraged.

  Arms abruptly slip around my waist and draw me back. My fingers slip from the guy’s sleeve and I let out a growl, fighting against Cameron—kicking, screaming, shouting—solely focused on the fact that he’s keeping me away from someone who may know something about my father.

  “Let me go, Cameron!” I cry, writhing my body.

  He doesn’t say a word as he holds me back, acting as though my kicking and screaming is nothing to him. Then, without saying anything, the guy rounds the corner of the building and disappears into the night, taking the information about my father with him.

  Cameron’s grip on me loosens, and I instantly spin around to shove him back. “What did you do to him?” I ask. “He acted like he didn’t even know what I was talking about… but I heard him say it before he died; he knew something about my dad. ” I turn to chase the guy down. “And I’m going to find out what. ”

  Cameron captures my arm, stopping me again. “Ember, relax. He doesn’t know anything about your father. I just put that in his head and made him say it. ”

  My heart withers as I slowly turn to face him. “Why would you do that? Just to mess with my head?”

  His expression is stoic as he continues to hold onto my arm. “Who said I was messing with you? Maybe I know something about your father. ”

  I want to shove him back and run; to get away from him because he has to be lying. Deep down, though—in the bottom of my soul—I wish that he wasn’t and that’s why I stay. “Do you know something?”

  He crosses his arms. “I’m not going to tell you until you pay me back for bringing back that guy. ”

  I shake my head. “I know I should be saying thank you, but for some reason I have a feeling I’m going to be thanking you without words. ” I force myself to look up at him and immediately wish I didn’t because the hunger in his eyes both terrifies me and excites me.

  A smile creeps up on his face as he extends his hand to me. Begrudgingly, I slip my fingers through his. Then he jerks me against his body, our chests colliding.

  “You can pretend you don’t want this,” he says, stroking a finger along my collarbone, “but we both know you do. ”

  I shake my head, unable to speak. “Just get it over with. Whatever you’re going to do to me. Then I’m going to ask you questions. ”

  “It’s not what I’m going to do to you, it’s what you’re going to do to me,” he says with a dark smile.

  I swallow hard as my stomach lurches. “Fine, let me get it over with. ”

  He lets out a low chuckle as he draws a line with his fingertip across the base of my neck to the other side of my collarbone. “Close your eyes. ”

  Forcing air into my lungs, I obey, feeling the power he has over me. I hold my breath when I feel him shift and then his lips are hovering over mine. He takes my hands and places them on top of his chest where his heart is; that is, if he has a heart.

  “Take it,” he whispers. “Take the life inside of me. ”

  My eyes snap open and I try to retreat, but he holds me securely in place. “What? No way. ” I shake my head swiftly.

  “You said that you’d do anything for me,” he says, his voice gravelly as he presses on my lower back, forcing me to stay close to him. “And this is what I want you to do. ”

  “No way. Besides, you’re already dead. You don’t even have life inside you. ”

  “If you really believe that, then why are you so afraid?”

  “I…” I trail off, feeling a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach, like I just walked into a trap. Was any of this real? The club? The guy I stabbed? None of it really happen, did it?

  “Feel it,” Cameron commands, ignoring me as he lowers his forehead against mine. “Take my life from me, princess. I’m asking you to. ”

  “Why?” I manage to say, but it’s hard to speak because I feel the spark of life within him
breathing, beating, fully alive and awake—waiting for me to take it away, blow it out and make it mine. “Why do you want me to do this?”

  “It doesn’t matter,” he says softly, his voice brimming with elation. “What does matter is that you said you would and that deep down, in that place you won’t admit exists, you know you want to feel it… the taste of a life from another. ”

  “No…” I say, but it’s a lie because, now that he’s said it, I want to taste it. I feel myself falling towards him, like my body is sinking into his, but I’m not the one moving. He is. Sinking into me, his life spilling into my veins, like smoldering flames that simmer out as soon as they touch me…

  “No…” I try to pull away, but it’s too late. His life engulfs me, hot and blazing, burning and breathing.

  Moments later, the fire starts to fizzle and becomes heavy and thick, like tar running through my veins. I can taste the foulness of it, but at the same time—within the distorted place I don’t want to admit exists, the one created by the Reaper blood inside me—I want it.

  I want more.

  When I push my hands forward, crushing them against Cameron’s chest, he lets out a painful yet blissful moan as his head slants back and more life and sparks burst into me until his life is consuming every inch of my body. Heavy and weightless at the same time—and somewhere between it all—I get lost. I float away into the darkness. And in the midst of it, I swear I feel feathers touching me, but before I can figure out why, I collapse to the ground and drift off… somewhere…

  You’ll understand soon. What I want.

  I try to make sense of the voice, but moments later, drift off into the blackness with feathers surrounding me. Then for the briefest moment, it feels like they’re falling off me.

  But I know that can’t be right.

  Chapter 3

  I wake up screaming with my lungs heaving, terrified of what I’ve just done. Murder. Death. Reapers. Evil. All of it connects with me and I half expect to burst into flames as I bolt upright. Yet, as my heart settles—as I realize where I am—I start to relax. I’m not in the alleyway, but in my bed, surrounded by black and red walls that are sketched with mythical drawings and depressing poetry. A thin, black curtain hangs across the closet doorway that’s decorated with photos of dead poets and authors along with a poem Cameron wrote a few weeks ago.

  “It was just a dream. ” I press my hand to my chest, relief washing over me as I realize the full extent of what this means. That I didn’t kill someone and take some of Cameron’s life, that Cameron didn’t tell me he knows something about my father. It was just a dream and I’m back to square one where I have nothing more than emptiness to accumulate my life.

  I tell myself to calm down as I keep my eyes on the door, wondering if my brother, Ian, heard me scream when I woke up. Even if he did—even if he is here—I doubt he’ll check in on me. That’s how things have been ever since I found Ian passed out in his bed with that photo of Alyssa, his deceased girlfriend, with the words, Death made me do it, Alyssa, and I’m sorry. But now I have to move on to the next angel written on it. I asked him about it the next day and he denied the photo ever existed along with the painting in the attic of Raven lying in the snow, wearing a cloak and holding an hourglass. Somehow, it disappeared and there’s no evidence that any of these things existed. For all I know, everything I’ve seen is nothing more than an illusion created by the Reapers.